As a quick introduction, we’re running a Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition campaign for Pdgn. After each session, I’ll be writing a post summarizing our adventure thus far. Our party is large (currently ten people), but we anticipate that subsets of the group will participate in various sessions. So, hopefully, it won’t be too overwhelming. Each session, I’ll include a list of players and characters present.

Characters: John “Battle Boar” Ionescu (cSmith), Raz (ubuntor), Baern Lutgehr (Hyper), Vanswaxle Fearless Pants (JacobEdelman), Lucifirius (Lucifirius), and Ez-Ra (The_Master)

Crude map

Our adventure is set in the desert region of Hava. A once great kingdom, Hava was weakened long ago by political turmoil, and, according to legend, a powerful beast from the Void. Modern day Hava is divided into three kingdoms, ruled from their capitals: Aki’ba, Mehgraba, and Mehrabya. In the center of the region, a powerful magical sandstorm rages, known only as the Void. Only one party has ever ventured into the Void, and little is known about its origin or nature. In recent years, the kingdom of Mehrabya has expanded its efforts to harnass the magical power of the Void. They’ve started a small colony on its edge, but little is known about their intentions. The expansive kingdom of Aki’ba has focused its efforts on resource acquisition, and trade. Its main trade partner is the kingdom of Mehrabya, one rather devoid of access to mined resources, and in constant competition with Mehgraba for its fisheries. In the southeast, there are two running mountain ranges, the Elahu and the Addin. The kingdom of Aki’ba once held undisputed control over the mountain pass, but a recent mining accident has blocked the pass. Although the kingdoms are vast, their grasps are weak, and the villages, far off from the cities, are more interested in their own survival than big city politics.

The government of Aki’ba is a powerful, authoritarian caliphate. The caliph rules by divine right, and his goals are well-known to be the reunification of Hava. They’re a traditionalistic culture, and do not welcome magic in their capital. Meanwhile, Mehgraba operates a large representative democracy with less clear motivations. Aki’ba and Mehgraba have been warring for centuries as a result of Aki’ba’s desire for reunification. Mehrabya is organized autonomously. Each settlement in the kingdom hosts biweekly meetings to determine major policy decisions, and a random member of the community is selected to manage minor (or necessarily immediate) policy decisions during the interim two weeks. Their stated goal is to use magic to enrich their own lives, and they’ve been consistently playing both sides of the war to ensure their own autonomy. Although disparate in ideology and culture in the modern age, the kingdoms are all linked by a rich shared cultural tradition dating back to an ancient legend of the great united kingdom of Hava.

As the legend has it, long ago, the entire region was unified under one sultanate known as Hava. The sultan of this great kingdom was a powerful wizard known as Jafar the Great. Amidst his rule, a powerful monster came from the Void, and sought to destroy the kingdom. In response to this immenent threat, Jafar called forth his armies to defend the kingdom. For three long years, the creature roamed the deserts, preying on innocent travellers and military scouting parties alike. Occasionally, the creature would assault villages, and burn them to the ground. As the creature destroyed villages, it continued to grow in size and power, and it became increasingly daring, drawing ever nearer to the capital. In an attempt to determine how to destroy the creature slowly but surely destroying the kingdom, Jafar assembled a party of powerful adventurers, and led them into the Void in search of answers. In all of the region’s history, this is the only time that a group has ever entered the heart of the Void. Several months passed, and they still had not returned. As fear of their death grew, galvanic opportunists jumped at the opportunity to try to seize the throne.

This dispute threw the leaderless kingdom farther into a state of political turmoil. Several months from when the dispute arose, Jafar and his party returned to Hava with nothing but a mysterious magical orb. They didn’t know what it did or how to use it, but it was the only thing they found before they grew too weary to continue. They had no time to explain however because on the day of their return, the monster struck the capital. Even larger and more powerful than before, the monster destroyed the capital with ease, even in spite of the party’s attempts to defend it. Jafar managed narrowly to escape, but the rest of his party was killed in the battle. Weak and alone, he then spent three weeks wandering the desert in search of insight into the magic orb they discovered in the Void. He visited many spiritual tribes who knew nothing of this orb, until one day, a great spirit came to him in a vision. The spirit taught him an ancient spell to use the orb, but the spell came at a great cost – it could destroy anything in an area, but it also meant destroy everything in that area – including the caster. Wracked with guilt, Jafar nevertheless felt it was his duty to save the kingdom and destroy the monster, and so, he sought it out. They found one another one fateful day, not too far from the Void, and Jafar sacrificed himself to destroy it. News spread quickly throughout the remains of the kingdom of the monster’s defeat, and of Jafar’s sacrifice, but it was mostly too late. The monster had destroyed most of the kingdom, and all that remained were three small villages near the Enku and Alela rivers. It was these three small villages that grew into the kingdoms (and capitals) of modern Hava. Little is known about the truth of this story, nor is much known about the united kingdom of Hava. Still, this story is a shared knowledge for all the Havan people, and represents what little collective unity they have left.

Our adventure begins in the Mehrabya village of Karri where two warlocks, Lucifirius and Vanswaxle have hired a rag-tag group of adventurers to help transport a large grain shipment originally from the farms of Jaffa to the city of Aki’ba. Jaffa is known for its quality grain and bakeries, and Jaffan grain is considered quite the luxury in much of Hava. They hope to fetch a pretty price for the grain on the market. Having just arrived in town from the west, our party heads immediately to the local tavern to satiate their great thirsts and to rest in preparation of further travels. While at the tavern, a mischievous Ez-Ra plays a prank on Vanswaxle, casting a spell to make the air sour. However, acknowledging his own tendency to misperceive, Vanswaxle ignores the taste. A caring dwarf, Baern sees it upon himself to give a group hug to three lonesome men sitting at the bar in the middle of the day. Meanwhile, tired of the bar’s quietness, Vanswaxle goes outside to use magic to convince passerbys to join the party in tavern revelry. He’s successful in his attempts, and a large crowd fills the tavern. The group drinks plenty of water for their health, and, of course, Baern manages to get a bit tipsy from mead. Pressed for time on their delivery, the group quickly scrounges together supplies to continue their travels and heads out east toward a minor trading post.

After travelling for a full day, the party decides to set up camp for nightfall. Vanswaxle is placed first on watch for the night. During his watch, he swears to see a large, fast-moving beast headed toward the camp, and he quickly awakens everyone using his telepathic speech. However, upon further investigation, none of our party is able to see any such beast, and indeed, there wasn’t one. Before noticing the lack of incoming enemies, Battle Boar springs to action and uses his signal whistle to call two pigs to his side. Lonely, the pigs decide to hang around for the night. Having pre-emptively employed magic to make himself invisible, Vanswaxle sees it fit to take advantage of his invisibility and so he strips naked and runs around the camp. Unfortunately for him, the desert nights in Hava are bitterly cold, and he begins to catch frostbite in his toes and netherregions. Thankfully, Battle Boar is more than equipped to heal his wounds and prevent further damage from the freezing cold. With that excursion passed, Raz is set on watch, and the rest of our party heads back to sleep.

A short while into his watch, Raz spots three small, four-legged creatures headed toward the camp. Raz awakens the party, and Vanswaxle sends for his imp to scout out the incoming enemies. Vanswaxle’s imp returns and informs the party that three liches are on the way causing the party to ignore the enemies and argue about whether or not to engage the liches. Fortunately for our party, the imp was tragically mistaken and the creature instead appeared to be jackals. Noticing this fact, Battle Boar once again springs to action trying to charm the jackals into friendship, but is ultimately unsuccessful. Nevertheless, with their powerful magic, our party is quickly able to deal with one of the creatures, killing it almost instantly. At this point, the two remaining jackals transform into humanoid jackal hybrids, and our party realizes that they are in fact jackalweres. The jackalweres manage to deal some serious damage to our rogue, Raz, but once again, Battle Boar comes to the rescue with his healing. With more magic, our party knocks a second jackalwere unconscious. Then, feeling diplomatic and disinterested in combat, Vanswaxle telepathically offers for the jackalwere to stand down, promising to have Battle Boar heal his unconscious companion. With little choice, the jackalwere takes the deal, and stands down. Our party makes good on the deal, and revitalizes the other jackalwere. Feeling wary of the jackalweres because of their reputation as a species, our party tries to determine if they’re up to something. However, they decide as a group that the jackalweres are likely trustworthy.

Even still, Lucifirius and Vanswaxle are particularly touchy about the cargo in transit. So, they decide to pretend to sleep and to keep watch over the jackalweres. Meanwhile, the rest of the party heads back to bed. The weaker jackalwere then pulls some meat from his pants pocket and begins to cook it. Noticing this, Vanswaxle disguises his voice and speaks telepathically to the jackalwere asking if he can share some meat, and ultimately, trying to seduce him. Initially, his attempts to seduce him fail, but with enough persistence, he gets through. The jackalwere leaves the camp, shapeshifts into a human, and heads back to Karri to meet up with his telepathic seducer. Distracted by this endeavour, Vanswaxle fails to notice the other jackalwere sneaking up on him, and before he has the chance to react, the jackalwere attacks him lying down, critically injuring him. While much of the party springs awake, Battle Boar remains asleep and is thus unable to offer healing to the weakened Vanswaxle. Vanswaxle uses his magic to try to escape the jackalwere and give his party members a chance to kill him, but the jackalwere is much faster. Ultimately, the jackalwere is able to knock Vanswaxle unconscious before the skilled shot of Raz’s bow is able to kill him. With one jackalwere gone and the other two dead, Ez-Ra uses his medical kit to stabilize Vanswaxle, and the party is able to collect itself once more.

Next time on Pdgn plays D&D: Magical Cauldron vs. The World